This week we’re going to take a trip across our Eastern border and take a look at Slovak. It may not one of the world’s most famous languages, but it’s one that’s definitely not to be overlooked, as its spoken by 5.6 million people.
Those of you who remember life in Czechoslovakia will remember hearing both Czech and Slovak every day and thinking nothing of it. But how did two languages that were once seen as so similar become so different? (e.g. zelí!). Out of the top 500 words, 230 are identical, 154 are related, and the rest are completely different. Geography obviously plays as the closer you get to the border, the closer Czech and Slovak become (take the Slovacko dialect for example). Slovak grammar is more regular than modern-day Czech as it wasn’t codified until the 19th century. Due to a lack of studies on the subject, theories of how Slovak came to be range from the belief that it is just a dialect of Czech, to the belief that it emerged as a mixture of neighbouring languages from Eastern and Southern Slavic micro regions. Another theory is a theory of migration, uniting all the languages ancient Slavic migrants spoke as they travelled to Central Europe.
Like any language, getting a professional translator or translation agency on your side is key. Slovak is a very rich language and there are often up to 5 ways of saying a single English word. This is why you need to give your translation team as much context as possible, so they can choose the most appropriate way of wording something. Slovaks also have a slightly different mentality when doing business, so if you’re ordering marketing translations, make sure they’re not a literal translation (just like any other language).
You should also make sure you use a native speaker from Slovakia. Czechs can understand Slovak and vice versa, but they’ve never learnt its grammar and spelling, which are really different, e.g. Czech has 7 cases and Slovak only 6.
This is a question that many clients often ask us. As Czech and Slovak are so similar, we understand that it makes sense to translate between the two. However, it’s not always easier. Czech and Slovak are one of the few languages in the world that are so similar but are yet so different. Translating between the two is good because it means that the two languages stay stylistically similar. But, because they are so similar, it’s really difficult to differentiate between the two and make sure that no Czech or Slovak words slip into the translation when they’re not meant to. This is why you should contact us with all your “Czechoslovak” enquiries.
If you’d like to know more, or make an order, get in touch. Our team of professional Slovak linguists will help you out.